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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:You are What You Eat Up: Deposing Chiefs in Early Colonial Natal, 1847-58
Author:McClendon, ThomasISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:South Africa
Subjects:military operations
traditional rulers
colonial administration
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
About person:Theophilus Shepstone (1817-1893)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4100724
Abstract:On three occasions within the first thirteen years after the establishment of the British colony of Natal in 1845, subject African chiefs found themselves attacked, put to flight and deposed by the government. In each case, the official who coordinated the attacks was Natal's powerful Secretary for Native Affairs (SNA) Theophilus Shepstone. This article examines these three incidents, involving struggles between Shepstone and his colonial State against non-submissive chiefs Fodo of the Pondo (in 1847), his cousin Sidoyi (1857) and Matshana of the Sithole (1858). In each case, the chief or his followers acted in ways that implicitly challenged the authority of the colonial State, then refused a summons to answer charges, leading the colonial authorities to take military action against the chiefs and their loyal followers. In each case, colonial forces succeeded relatively quickly in establishing military supremacy over the chief's territory, and in confiscating large numbers of cattle belonging to the rebellious chiefdom. The chiefs themselves escaped and crossed the border out of Natal into neighbouring African kingdoms. The chiefs were deposed and, in the first two cases, replaced with colonial protégés. In the last conflict, that with Matshana in 1858, the colonial State followed through by disbanding the chiefdom and scattering its constituents, as it was to do with Langalibalele's Hlubi in 1873. What do these incidents reveal about power and authority in a nascent colonial State? The author argues that in their obsession with asserting authority over recalcitrant African chiefs, colonial officials in Natal reflected and assumed both real and imagined African styles of the exercise of sovereignty and lordship. Notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]